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The NFX Podcast

Author: NFX

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We believe creating something of true significance starts with seeing things others do not.
119 Episodes
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It’s not often you get to see through the eyes of someone who created a product that you and hundreds of millions of other people use, hundreds of times a day, every single day, and have for a decade or more. Tony Fadell is the legendary inventor of the iPod, co-inventor with Steve Jobs of the iPhone, and Founder of Nest. Now he is the Principal at Future Shape, an investment and advisory firm coaching over 200+ startups. There’s almost an infinity of things to learn from Tony, but what we most wanted to uncover are his product frameworks and first principles for design. How can Founders think about designing products that are both high-utility and beloved -- that achieve dent-in-the-universe levels of adoption? As Tony puts it: For truly great designs, 50% of the design is the design. 50% of the design is the story behind the design. And it all begins with re-learning how to see.
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. When Shishir Mehrotra left YouTube in 2014, a number of other company leaders wanted to understand how YouTube worked from the inside. He wrote this article summarizing their key rituals in a stage of hypergrowth. This article was originally published in 2015, but has since been expanded upon by Shishir. Read the full essay here - https://coda.io/@shishir/rituals-for-hypergrowth-an-inside-look-at-how-youtube-scaled
What started as a viral medium article from two years ago has now turned into 'Super Founders', a book on what data reveals about billion-dollar startups. Today on the NFX Podcast we have Ali Tamaseb (partner at DCVC) talking with James Currier about his data-driven approach to understanding what really differentiates billion-dollar startups from the rest. The book includes exclusive interviews with the founders/investors of Zoom, Instacart, PayPal, Nest, Github, Flatiron Health, Kite Pharma, Facebook, Stripe, Airbnb, YouTube, LinkedIn, Lyft, DoorDash, Coinbase, and Square, venture capital investors like Elad Gil, Peter Thiel, Alfred Lin, and Keith Rabois. Ali Tamaseb has spent thousands of hours manually amassing what may be the largest dataset ever collected on startups, comparing billion-dollar startups with those that failed to become one—30,000 data points on nearly every factor: number of competitors, market size, the founder’s age, his or her university’s ranking, quality of investors, fundraising time, and many, many more.
Stanford GSB Dean Jon Levin joins NFX Partner Pete Flint to discuss his perspective on new Founders entering the industry, how Stanford encourages its students to solve real-world problems with technology, macroeconomics, and the overall state of capitalism. Jon Levin started teaching at Stanford in 2000. Has been Dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business since Sept 2016 and is about to celebrate 5 years in that role. Levin received his BA and BS degrees from Stanford University in 1994, an MPhil in Economics from Oxford in 1996, and his PhD in Economics from MIT in 1999. Pete got to know Dean Levin from being on the GSB Management Board after graduating in 2005. He has also co-taught a number of cases at the GSB.
Underlying Waze's journey is a little-known approach to product thinking, super-powerful data network effects, and a guiding north star metric. This is Waze's insider story, as told by their former CEO, Noam Bardin. NFX Partner Gigi Levy-Weiss recently sat down with Noam, where they discussed the step-by-step story of the company's growth, starting from their early days in 2008 with just 2,000 monthly active users, through being acquired by Google for $1B in 2013, and hitting 140M monthly active users at the time Noam stepped down in Feb 2021. Early-stage Founders are wise to study as many successful growth stories as they can. While there is no single playbook of best practices, each case contains deeply valuable learning that we at NFX aim to pass along from Founder to Founder. Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/the-insider-story-of-waze
Speed is routinely acknowledged as a major advantage for startups. But startup speed is not sufficiently understood as an invaluable competency for society at large. Solv Health’s growth during the pandemic is a great example. Just 4 years old, the startup managed 5 million Covid tests in 2020, compared to 7 million tests by long-established CVS. Today NFX General Partner Pete Flint is joined by Heather Fernandez, Co-Founder and CEO of Solv Health and previously a leader with him at Trulia. They analyze mental models and hard tactics for using speed to convert chaos to growth — and good. Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/startup-speed-as-a-public-good
The Great Online Game is an infinite video game that plays out constantly across the internet. It uses many of the mechanics of a video game, but removes the boundaries. You’re no longer playing as an avatar in Fortnite or Roblox; you’re playing as yourself across Twitter, YouTube, Discords, work, projects, and investments Packy McCormick is the founder of the Not Boring Club, a newsletter on business strategy and pop culture. This episode is narrated by Packy himself. We were referred to this post by Li Jin, our most recent guest on the NFX Podcast. Read the full essay here - https://www.notboring.co/p/the-great-online-game
The "Passion Economy" as coined by Li Jin makes it easier for people to monetize their individuality through unique, creative work. This comes with a host of benefits, not the least of which is the emergence of new markets, a feeling of autonomy, and intrinsic satisfaction. To work through this and more, James Currier is joined by Li Jin herself -- former investment partner at A16Z, now Founder and Managing Partner at Atelier. They discuss how NFTs are changing the economics of the Creator Economy, what happens when everyone has to be a marketer, and how they look for ways to make platform participants into platform owners. Read the NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/li-jin-passion-attention-economy/
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. This is, ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ written by Marc Prensky. Marc Prensky is an American writer and speaker on education. He is best known as the creator of the terms "Digital native" and "digital immigrant" which he will expand on in this famous essay. Read by NFX. Read the full essay here - https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Lise Buyer, known as the IPO whisperer Pete Flint on the NFX Podcast to discuss all things taking a company public via traditional IPOs, Direct Listings, and SPACs. Lise consulted on Trulia’s IPO in back in 2012 when Pete was CEO and Co-Founder. Previously, Ms Buyer was the Director of Business Optimization for Google Inc. where she was one of the chief architects of the company’s innovative IPO. Lise shares her expert thoughts on: - What has changed in public markets - Why some companies should stay private - When to make the decision of going public as a company leader - What stays the same in a company after going public - Building the infrastructure to go public - & the differences between traditional IPO vs. Direct Listing vs. SPACs Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/new-world-of-going-public/
In December 2017, the white paper introducing Maker and the original decentralized Dai Stablecoin System was published.  It describes the exact design and features of the Dai launch, as well as a roadmap for the future of Dai. The Dai Stablecoin is a collateral-backed cryptocurrency whose value is stable relative to the US Dollar. You can also listen to the Bitcoin and Ethereum white papers on The Founders’ List, at - founderslist.nfx.com Read here - https://makerdao.com/en/whitepaper/
Julia and Kevin Hartz co-founded Eventbrite, a website that allows users to create, share, and join events worldwide. In this episode of the NFX Podcast, the two join NFX Partner Pete Flint to discuss their founder journey, financing, fundraising, scaling, unicorn status, and a deep dive on the little-known details of taking a tech company public via SPAC. Launched in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, Eventbrite has navigated through the pandemic with a refocused strategy and a leaner cost base. In September of 2018, Julia took Eventbrite public, making her among the few women to lead the successful initial public offering of a technology start-up.
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. We’ve recently published a podcast and essay focused on Hamilton Helmer’s 7 Powers book, regarded as a core insight behind the success of companies like Spotify, Netflix, Stripe, and Twilio. For this episode of the Founders’ List, we’ll be sharing notes and personal thoughts on the book titled “Mind the Moat, a 7 Powers Review” by  Flo Crivelo, Founder & CEO of TeamFlow. Read Flo's essay here - https://florentcrivello.com/index.php/2018/07/29/mind-the-moat-a-7-powers-review/
In this special NFX Podcast episode, Jeff Lawson (Co-Founder & CEO at Twilio) interviews Hamilton Helmer to analyze the 7 Powers, getting at the core question: What is it about certain businesses that keeps the force of competition away? Helmer’s framework reveals that you can intentionally craft the conditions for persistent & durable differential returns. 7 Powers is Hamilton’s cognitive guide to building an enduringly great business and breaks fresh ground by constructing a comprehensive strategy toolset that is easy for you to learn, communicate and quickly apply. Hamilton has led over 200 strategy projects with major clients such as Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Netflix, Raychem, and Spotify. Jeff Lawson is a Co-Founder and CEO at Twilio, a cloud communications platform that adds messaging, voice and video to web and mobile apps. He is a serial inventor with over 15 years of entrepreneurial and product experience. Read the full NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/seven-powers/
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. "We’re on the precipice of a new era of the web. As infinite distractions compete for our attention, companies are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds and lives. The Hook Model is a way of describing a user’s interactions with a product as they pass through four phases: a trigger to begin using the product, an action to satisfy the trigger, a variable reward for the action, and some type of investment that, ultimately, makes the product more valuable to the user. As the user goes through these phases, he builds habits in the process." This essay was written and published by Nir Eyal, best-selling author & professor. Read the full article on Nir's blog here: Read the essay here - https://www.nirandfar.com/how-to-manufacture-desire/
Insurtech is also a space that has become increasingly crowded and more high-profile in recent years. Hippo Insurance uses technology to help homeowners maintain their properties, creating a new standard of care and protection for homeowners. Hippo announced its intention to go public via SPAC in early March of this year that will now give Hippo a valuation of $5B, making it one of the largest insurtechs in the US. Co-Founder & CEO Assaf Wand sits down with NFX Partner Pete Flint to share his Founder story, product mindset, strategy behind the SPAC, and personal frameworks for taking Hippo from idea to IPO.
The new American dream is underway. The current US educational industrial complex is not serving young people anymore, and entrepreneurs outside the system are creating new alternatives. Austen Allred, Co-Founder/CEO of Lambda School earned this perspective by dropping out of college, setting his own path, and now building a successful company and movement to change education in our country. Austen sees our educational past, present, and future in ways few others do. In this conversation, James Currier (NFX) and Austen break down traditional and contrarian thinking on how we are educated, challenging what has gone unquestioned for decades: - The Psychology of Traditional College: Why “Normal is a hell of a drug” - Faulty Mechanics: The problem with America’s “Single Model” education system - The New American Dream: How “permissionless learning” unlocks opportunity - & 2 Trends to Watch Read the NFX Essay here - https://www.nfx.com/post/the-new-american-dream/
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. In his final letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Thursday laid out a broad vision for the future of the company, committing to extend Amazon’s famous obsession over its customers to the same level of care for its employees. Bezos also took steps to ease shareholders’ fears about what a reimagined focus for the company might mean for Amazon’s future. He reiterated that it “remains Day 1” and highlighted continued growth at Amazon. Read the letter here - https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/company-news/2020-letter-to-shareholders
Jeff Wilke (former CEO, Amazon's Worldwide Consumer Business) sheds light on a counter-intuitive driver behind unusual success: Focus on the inputs, not the outputs. Jeff shares the 3 drivers underlying the rise of Amazon, Prime, Alexa, and AWS, including: 1. "Mechanisms": Amazon's definition, two failure modes, and why they're harder to implement than it first appears 2. A Single-Page Culture: How Amazon's set of principles proved to be an inoculation against a drifting culture 3. Single-Threaded Invention In practice, operational excellence is the key driver to executing consistently for the long term. It is the secret for harnessing creativity that compounds value over time.
This is The Founders' List - audio versions of essays from technology’s most important leaders, selected by the founder community. Amazon's approach to building sustainable long-term value should be a lesson to all companies - not just Internet companies. When Jeff Bezos took Amazon public 24 years ago, he sent this letter to all Shareholders and is still considered a playbook for building a great company - read by NFX. "1997 was indeed an incredible year. We at Amazon.com are grateful to our customers for their business and trust, to each other for our hard work, and to our shareholders for their support and encouragement."
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